I think for many of us, it was the $3.2 million opening scene of The Grand Tour that really made the show. Following some cranky, paunchy Englishman from a wet London cab across an ocean, into a crazy modified Mustang, and then into the desert, where he’s met by a flotilla of amazing, insane cars, was perfect. And we know someone who helped make it happen.
That someone is Jim Graham, a Class 11 (think mostly stock Beetles) Baja racer that we’ve featured here several times before. Jim’s a great guy, and if you’re looking for a contact to help you source a bunch of bonkers cars to drive around in the Southern California desert, you really can’t do any better than Jim.
The producers of The Grand Tour agreed, which is exactly why they contacted Jim. Most of the really weird stuff you see out there was there thanks to Jim.
There’s plenty of other amazing stuff in that insane cluster of cars, too – really early Rolls-Royces, cars from movies, a Jeep FC pickup that we’ve actually covered before, Spykers, Paganis, and all sorts of exotic iron.
We reached out to Jim to tell us a bit about the experience, and to share with us some of his photos from ground zero at the event. Happily, he obliged, so enjoy:
I helped them reach out to mutant vehicle owners who participated in the event. The ones you see are the ship - The Monaco - Henry Chang’s Mr. Fusion, the Scorpion, Walter the Bus, The Minibago and one of the dragons from the event.
They had all the car people arrive so they could get all the cars positioned around the stage. The Grand Tour were total pros. Everyone who brought a car out was talking with everyone else. It was like the ultimate cars ’n coffee. I told Rick, one of the newest guys on the race team “Soak all this in, because there will never be this collection of cars in one place again in your lifetime.”
The big white tent is where they held the contest winners until they were ready for the shot. It was really hot, but they had the tent set up with gigantic swamp cooler fans that helped a lot. And food trucks. Lots of food trucks. The tent for studio filming was set up next to the white tent.
Clarkson, Hammond and May were totally cool and spent a good chunk of the morning hanging out with everyone checking out the cars. Even ours.
We sort of snuck in and positioned 1107 next to the Pagani Huayra and tried to act like we belonged there. No one seemed to mind, but I did have the guys pick up the car and move it a few inches because I didn’t want our passenger door whacking a $1.3 million dollar car. We were on the left side of the stage, close to the edge of the crowd.
The crowd had come in on school buses and when they got ready to do the shot they brought them over from the white tent. From that point forward we just talked to people about the race car and let them climb in for photos.
They shot the scene at least three times to get it from different angles.
Hopefully, now you feel like you were there, too. Have some more pictures of some cars: